Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Clinic, etcetera

I audited the Patrick Shannahan clinic last weekend (only on Sunday, 'cause I had agility :) ) and it was awesome! I really wish two things, though.

1) That I had been able to go for both days, and;
2) That I would have paid for a working spot.

It was a really fun time, and as always, Patrick and Dianne put on a great clinic. I always learn so much from watching other dogs work, and other people work their dogs. Because this clinic was geared towards young dogs and novice handlers, everyone worked in Dianne's indoor arena. Good for fine-tuning things up close, but bad for photos!

It was great to see Carolynn again-- and she let me try out her new camera, a Canon 7D *drool*. What an awesome piece of equipment... I want! (*pssst.... Joe, are you listening?).

She also let me use a nicer lens on MY camera, which was pretty sweet too. I managed to get some decent photos, considering that we were all in a dark barn :) Here's a few photos I took, of:

Ruben, Moss's littermate

Spirit, owned by Autumn Brooks
(not bad for a mostly black dog in the dark!)

Link, Autumn's new puppy (also a full brother to Moss, but from the most recent breeding)

Moss is still with Dianne, and doing amazing. She has him started on whistles and inside flanks already! Guess that means I need to start practicing my whistles again. I've been avoiding it like the plague. Why couldn't they design an easier whistle? So far I've been having a lot of trouble with reaching the right note of the "come bye" command. Guess I need a lot more work before I'm actually ready to use this around any dog (or person!):

Isn't it pretty? I got it from Amy Raymond of Raymond Silver. She's an awesomely talented chick :)

I'll leave you with a particularly cute headshot of Mossy... taken at the clinic. Look how beefy he's getting!

P.S. Lora, I've started reading The Nine Secrets of Perfect Horsemanship, and it's great so far! I'll post about it sometime soon. Thanks so much!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Life Is Like A Tippy Board Pt. 2

Cedar was awesome at class today, as usual. We worked on weaves, contacts, tippy board stuff, and jump sequences. Some of the exercises were a bit over her/our head, but that's okay.

I was most pleased by the fact that she showed no fear at all on the tippy board! Yay! We moved on to the A-frame (which we've never done before) and she was awesome... although she did try to make the A-frame "board" move because of all the work we've done this week on the tippy board, LOL.

I had been click/treating her for moving the board, so I guess she thought that the A-frame was the same thing :). She really started to learn 2 on/2 off contacts after a few repetitions, even offering the behavior on her own. That was really cool. I love this dog!

Next, we worked some on weave poles (2x2), and she's doing pretty well. with those. She weaved 4 straight poles a few times, but started missing entries so I backed up a little and moved the two sets a few inches apart. By the end, she was doing much better. I can't wait until we have consistent weaves!

The jump sequence work was a bit tricky. Cedar is so fast that neither of us is practiced enough to be able to think far enough ahead. Thus, she kept blowing past the first jump out of the tunnel. It turns out, I was getting too far ahead of her which was making her speed up too much. When I tried hanging back as she came out of the tunnel, it went much better and we were able to make the jump.

Look at that style!

Side note: I really need to work on rear crosses!

A few more pictures (thanks, Joe for taking them!):

Life Is Like A Tippy Board

As you all know, I've recently started Cedar back in agility. We've been having an absolute blast with it... everyone in the class is really great, and Cedar is such a natural at it. However, our Achilles heel is the teeter. Cedar totally freaks out at any sort of motion under her feet. Obviously, that just won't do for a future potential agility dog!

Thankfully, our friend Glenda (who owns Moss's littermate, Ruben) lent me a tippy board last week and I've been working Cedar on it with the clicker all week. For those that don't know what a tippy board is, it's pretty much just like it sounds. A long board with a piece of PVC pipe in the middle so that when weight is applied to one side or the other, the board tips/moves. Basically, it's a dramatically less-scary mini teeter. At least in theory. ;)

It took me a few minutes to get Cedar comfortable enough with the board to even start to figure out what would get her the "click." She eventually figured out that I wanted her to put her feet on the board, and got comfortable with putting her front feet on pretty fast. However, it's taken me the rest of the week to get her comfortable with putting her back feet on the board. I'm hoping that with a few more weeks of work, she can figure it out so we can start working on the actual obstacle. I want her to get over her fear before that, though... I don't want her associating scaryness with the teeter.

Anyways, I'm off to class, so I'm sure I'll have a lot more to blog about later!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Only Fools Rush In.... to Front Crosses

I think I'm falling back in love with agility. I am having SO much fun with Cedar! We had our group class yesterday, and it was neat to see how much progress she's made in the past month. We are now able to successfully run pretty complex mini-sequences (8-10 obstacles or so) and we're working on contact equipment as well. She does NOT like the teeter... I'm hoping to borrow a tip board from a friend so I can work on it with Cedar using the clicker. I am confident that this is something we can definitely get past.

She learned the chute in about 30 seconds, and wasn't afraid of the fabric or the noise at all, which surprised me. I'm so proud!

Her jumping is coming along really nicely, too; our instructor, Mary, says that Cedar has really nice form. I'm really happy to hear that, as I have spent a lot of time working on developing her into a good jumper. It's nice to see the training start to pay off! She very rarely drops bars-- and with her speed, that's pretty rare! She is one of the fastest dogs I've ever been around. I think she'll be a lot of fun. Her 2x2 weaves are coming along nicely as well, but I need to stick with it and train them consistently. I'm so bad at that ;).

In our last run of the day, the course required a front cross about halfway through. I was worried that Cedar would be going too fast for me to make it to where I needed to go in time to make the cross. After a few fumbles (I may or may not have tripped over my own feet and fell down... just saying)... we NAILED it! It was so awesome! Yesterday, I learned that I can trust Cedar to commit to obstacles at a distance, which really helps me to be able to keep up with her :). She is so focused and driven in agility, plus she loves it, which helps things along. I don't see any of the panic that herding brings out in her when we do agility. Maybe this is what Cedar is meant to do? Only time will tell :).

I am hoping--tentatively--that we will be ready to trial this summer or fall. However, I don't want to rush into trialing. I want us both to be totally ready before taking the plunge, though... with Cedar, half the battle is making her feel comfortable and confident. I don't want anything bad to happen that would freak her out. I guess that means lots of proofing!

I really need to get some pictures...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Get Back, I Said!

Both the dogs were definitely feeling their oats at Dianne's today.

I worked Moss first. Dianne had us sort sheep first, which was fun. I opened the gate, walked in with Mossy, and sent him on a come bye flank to pick up the whole flock. As usual, Mossy was great, and I was... in the way. :). With a little manuevering, we got the sheep out and I sorted off seven to work. Moss drove them out to the pasture like a champ, and we did a couple outruns before the sheep decided that they wanted to sprint for home. I should have trusted Mossy enough to get them, but I waited too long to send him and they made it back to the pens. I walked most of the way back and sent him on an away flank... Around Dianne's pond and by the pens. He only needed one redirect, and brought me the sheep easy as pie. He drove them out to the field... Agaaaaain... and I had him drive the sheep to random places in the pasture. He even did an inside flank on the comebye side when I asked! Yay! He definitely was pushier than usual today, though. I had to remind him that I am, in fact, worth listening to ;).

Cedar was naughty today.... haha. I should have known that she wasn't in the listening mood because I had to really work at getting her to look at me on the walk out to the sheep. Our first outrun was... Not good. She was fast, tight, and frantic; the more I told her to "get back," the faster and more frantic she got. I spent the majority of the time just trying to get her backed off and listening. Fortunately, my timing is improving and I was able to get her working calmly and intelligently by the end of our lesson.

I took the opportunity to work Moss a second time, and he did really well. Still a little pushy, but good. He is such a good boy, and a fast learner to boot. The sheep ended up escaping again, and in my characteristic "durrrr" fashion, let them get too far away before attempting to send Moss, even though I knew they wanted to bolt about ten seconds before they actually did. Gah! No worries, though... I walked closer to the pens like before, and sent Mossy on another away flank. This time, I didn't have to say a word to him. What a pro!

Moss is back at Dianne's for another month. I miss his face already :-(.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Reflecting and Projecting

Being as it's, well...around the New Year, I thought I'd write down some "dog" goals for the coming year.

2009 was a bit of a disorganized year for me, and I feel like I didn't get as much accomplished as I would have liked. It started off with a lot of herding.... Cedar and I worked very hard at the beginning of the year and managed to hold it together enough to earn our ASCA Started title. That was our first trial experience and I learned a lot. I attended several clinics and USBCHA trials (as a spectator) last year as well, which was great. I learn almost as much from watching other people and other dogs than I do when I'm actually working Cedar or Moss.

Cedar has made a lot of improvement since this time last year. It's almost like I have a different dog :). She is much better able to let go of her nervousness/panic (most of the time) and take my directions. She's growing up a lot mentally, which I've noticed a lot in the past few months. She's much less prone to diving in and gripping, but even when she does, I am able to call her off immediately... even if the sheep are bolting. So, that's a big step for her. We've done a ton of work on her outruns since the end of the summer, and all that effort is paying off. She is running wider than ever before, and is usually pretty good at the lift. I am really proud of her for that. I am hoping to do some arena trials (and *maybe* USBCHA Novice) next year with her.

We have also taken up agility again (which she LOVES) and hope to compete next year. Cedar is doing really awesome in agility.... she's wicked fast and very enthusiastic! Right now her favorite obstacles are jumps, tunnels, and the table. She's not so sure yet about the teeter ;). I am excited to see how far we can go in agility, I think (and my trainer concurs) that she could potentially be really good.

The biggest change this year would have to be the addition of Moss to the pack. I picked him out at two days old and took him home in early February. He fit right in from the start and has been a lot of fun. His sunny, laid back personality has been really good for Cedar. He is very dopey, but deceptively smart, picking up on tricks and new commands very fast. He is also wicked talented on sheep...which has been a blast. Everything just comes so easy for him.... his like the popular, handsome jock who you want to hate, but you can't because he's actually a really nice guy ;). Moss went and stayed at Dianne's for training in the beginning of November, and has made tons of progress since then. He's home right now, but will go back with Dianne shortly.

Anyways, I suppose it's time for the "goal portion" of this entry...

General goals:

1) Continue my progression towards becoming a calm, competent, confident, and patient handler;
2) Never forget to appreciate my dogs for who they are, and try harder to work with their strengths instead of focusing on their weaknesses;
3) Learn whistles;
4) Manage my time better so I have more time to spend with my dogs;
5) Successfully compete in my first USBCHA trial.

Oh, and I'd also like to strive to blog at least two-to-three times a week ;).


1) Follow through with agility classes and get her to the point that we can trial successfully next summer or fall;
2)Aim to teach her one new trick each week;
3) Be able to send her on a respectfully big outrun--from my feet--without having to give her any re-directs or corrections;
4) Master inside flanks.... at least somewhat reliably;
5) Work consistently towards making her less fearful and insecure;
6) Get an obedience or rally title.


1) Make an effort to do more formal obedience/trick training with him;
2) Learn how to handle him effectively on sheep;
3) Learn inside flanks;
4) Get good at penning as a team;
5) Teach him to go to a bed, lie down, and stay there calmly until released.

That's all I can think of for now.... I may add to this later. I'll leave y'all with a pretty picture of my Beatcakes in the snow :)